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Inexpensive wedding wine?


MT-Tarragon
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This is my first post over here in the wine section, and I'm a bit hesitant in making my request.

I'm getting married pretty soon and need some help in making wine selections for the reception. My in-laws-to-be were going to take care of this, but I have decided to take it over. I don't have much money to spend on this, though. There will be around 150 wine drinking guests, very mixed in age and wine interest. There is not a formal dinner, but we will have a buffet offering several different types of cuisine -- mostly with a latin/Spanish flavor. We have a salsa band, so hopefully the reception will be lively. There will be non-alcoholic punch and alcoholic sangria in addition to the wine. The event will be in the outdoors in the evening, weather should be in the 70s if all is well.

I read in another thread that 5 cases should be about right for this size event. Now, the problem. I've got at most $500 to spend on wine. The in-laws-to-be would have gotten two-buck Chuck, and this is what they are recommending that I get. Luckily, I think I have budget for a little better than that. Is anyone willing to give me some recommendations on wines that could be acceptable in this price range? I live near Seattle, so I do have some access to different wine stores.

Since there will be some people there who will be happy with the Chuck, I thought maybe a case or two of the Chuck would be OK and allow me to spend more on a better quality or two of better wine. Then the wine-bar server be could told "if they ask for red give them the Chuck, otherwise give them whatever they specify." I don't know if that would really be appropriate, though.

Anyway, all ideas are appreciated. Thanks for your time.

M. Thomas

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An inexpensive sparkling wine always works well. Not cheap, inexpensive. :biggrin: Kenwood vintage red and white are good buys also. http://www.madwine.com/kenwoodwinery.html :biggrin:

Edited by winesonoma (log)

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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Check out this recent article on bargain wines in the SF Chronicle: click

(may want to copy it if you're interested; can't recall how long the article is available for free).

You might get more info looking back a few weeks as well. The articles are pinned at the top of the CA forum.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Zardetto makes a decent sparkler for all of $7 or so a bottle, you can get a number of Spanish reds for around the same price - Las Rocas is a good pick. For a white, you should be able to find an Albarino or Verdejo in the same price bracket.

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Just reading Party! by Lorna Wing, which is about catering for large events. For a 3 hour event she recommends 4 cases of wine, 1/3 red, 2/3 white. So assuming your event is planned for this long think 10 cases, plus soft and other drinks. For a 2 hour event 2 1/2 cases for 60 guests so you are looking at 6 or 7 cases, minimum. Personal experience says this could be on the low side, especially if people are dancing.

Don't even think of trying to serve different wines to "deserving and undeserving" guests, it won't work. Two buck chuck is beginning to look like the only available option.

Final thing is try and get something with reasonable alcohol levels, 11% would be good, steer clear of 14% monsters.

Good luck.

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I just did some quick calculations and based on roughly 7 glasses of wine per bottle (if anyone would like to know how many "sample" pours you can get out of a bottle, I have that too) for 150 guests I think the minimum you should have is 7 or 8 cases. Since I don't buy wine in the States very often I'm not too sure of the pricing but I'm sure that you can get some pretty decent wine in the $5-8 range. Columbia Crest is good reasonably priced wine. I would think that any good liquor store will have a wine specialist that go through your budget with you and help you choose a wine. Maybe you can even get them to do a tasting with you.

Good luck and congratulations.

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Just reading Party! by Lorna Wing, which is about catering for large events. For a 3 hour event she recommends 4 cases of wine, 1/3 red, 2/3 white. So assuming your event is planned for this long think 10 cases, plus soft and other drinks. For a 2 hour event 2 1/2 cases for 60 guests so you are looking at 6 or 7 cases, minimum. Personal experience says this could be on the low side, especially if people are dancing.

Don't even think of trying to serve different wines to "deserving and undeserving" guests, it won't work. Two buck chuck is beginning to look like the only available option.

Final thing is try and get something with reasonable alcohol levels, 11% would be good, steer clear of 14% monsters.

Good luck.

I'd recommend you look into Portuguese offerings, if they are available in your area. They can be a steal. My everyday white is a vinho verde from Aveleda, which is a really pleasant, slightly fizzy, easy-drinking wine, very hard to dislike - and comes in at $3.49/btl with case discount. I havent kept very good track of reds, but several Dao (region) reds used to be available in the $4-$5 range, and were generally extremely serviceable.

I'll vouch for the white, but I would suggest you try the reds, since they range a bit in style, and some can be quite rustic. Others, however, are pleasant everyday quaffers, and I would wager with minimal work you could save yourself quite a lot of money.

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I would second the Protuguese rec. Vino Verde is really nice and very reasonable. Since you say you live near Seattle, you might want to go to Esquin's--excellent wine shop with a great selection and very helpful staff.

Edited by scordelia (log)

S. Cue

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Thank you all for your recommendations. It looks like my original information about amount of wine needed was wrong. It seems like I probably do need more like 10 cases. After examining my budget and reprioritizing a few things, I think I can do the 10 cases for around $70 per case. Whew. Taking some advice from here, I went to Esquin and looked around for wine in that range. Luckily, they said that for weddings you can return any wine that you don't use. I found a few things and am interested to know if anyone has tried them.

Sparkling Wine

Cristalino Brut NV (Cava, Spain)

Segura Viudas Brut Riserva NV (Cava, Spain)

Various Reds

Vila Tinto Fundacion 2002 Red table wine from Mendoza

Yellow Tail Shiraz 2004

Cotes du Rhone 2002 red wine (actually at Trader Joe's)

Rex Goliath Cabernet Sauvignon NV

Morande Pionero Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 from Chile

Borsao, 2003 red wine from Campo de Borja, Spain

3-buck Chuck, Cab Sav 2002 from Trader Joe's (okay, I've read comments about this in other threads)

We'll try to taste test some of these, but if people know that any or all are gross, let me know.

Thanks again!

M. Thomas

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Yellow Tail Shiraz 2004

I haven't tasted the 2004 version, but have tasted prior vintages of several Yellow Tail wines, including the Shiraz. I'm not a fan. There's nothing objectively wrong with it and it's certainly not "gross", but it is -- to put it bluntly -- just plain insipid compared to other things available in the range.

Cotes du Rhone 2002 red wine (actually at Trader Joe's)

Anytime anyone makes broad generalizations about vintages, you should beware. However, I'm about to do that. 2002 was very wet in the southern Rhone (as well as other parts of Europe). While there are some good wines out there (which might be very good bargains), I would be very, very wary of buying anything in this range without tasting first. You are at high risk of winding up with something very dilute and maybe with the nastiness of hail damage. However, you may be able to find similarly priced CdR from 2001 or 2003, either of which should be a bit safer bet.

Rex Goliath Cabernet Sauvignon NV

I've not had any of the Rex Goliath wines, but know a number of people (with palates I respect) who believe the Rex Goliath Pinot Noir is one of the very best values on the market today. Don't know about the Cab.

Borsao, 2003 red wine from Campo de Borja, Spain

Similar to the Rex Goliath comment, I haven't tasted it, but know a number of people who think this is pretty good wine at a fantastic price.

Good luck,

Jim

Jim Jones

London, England

Never teach a pig to sing. It only wastes your time and frustrates the pig.

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A few words of encouragement. Several wine enthusiasts have passed comment on things like two buck chuck which doesn't meet their standards, but don't despair, because what it lacks may be exactly what you are looking for. It may sound like heresy but what the enthusiast is looking for is complexity, length, style, character but you probably don't need any of those things, some of them could be a positive disadvantage. What you need is something inoffensive, bland almost, that anybody can drink, will not clash with any of the foods you are serving, is not high in alcohol (or tannins) and is reasonably well made, i.e. does not have any obvious faults. That sort of wine will satisfy the people who do not drink wine regularly and will not upset the aficionados, who after all are at your wedding, not a wine tasting.

At my son's wedding last year we tasted several wines to decide which to use, then tried them with samples of the food we were going to serve. In the end, to cover the greatest number of bases we had a Jacob's Creek Semillon Chardonnay and a Hardy's Merlot (we can get Australian wine at good prices here). Neither of them great wines, and not my choice for personal drinking, but they were basic honest wines, went down well (nobody complained) and came in at a modest price. Result.

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I'd like to heartily agree with Melkor; Zardetto Prosecco is a terrific sparkling wine, and I can get it here in NJ for 7.99 or 8.99 a bottle--and that's regular pricing! I recommended it to friends who were hosting a backyard wedding last Sept and they just raved about it; it's lighter than champagne, so it won't knock out the lightweight drinkers, it goes with any type of food, and it's festive! Ironically, the wedding I just mentioned had a Latin theme b/c the groom is Mexican, so they also had sangria.

For a red, how about sticking to your Latin theme and trying some Rancho Zabaco Dancing Bull (under $12 a bottle, so certainly cheaper by the case)?

For a white, Bella Sera Pinot Grigio is completely acceptable.

Regardless of what you end up with, TASTE THEM FIRST. If you don't like them, you obviously don't want to serve them!

My wine expert always says that when you're buying wine for a large group and budget is a concern, pour something that you like but that won't break the bank. And of course, serve wines that you won't cringe over if you're dumping half-consumed glasses of them at the end of the night!

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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must... deny... urge... to... post... BOONES FARM!!!!!!! :hmmm:

:wacko:

:blink:

:laugh:

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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Yes, deny that urge. PLEASE!! :laugh:

But that reminded me that Boony Doon's Big House Red (complete with Stelvin closure) is also a good budget-minded option! Haven't had the white.

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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Boony Doon's Big House Red (complete with Stelvin closure) is also a good budget-minded option!  Haven't had the white.

You should be able to find that at World Market for under $8 a bottle. Some friends of mine used it for thier wedding as well-check it out. A nice drink at a nice price and the label art is fun too.

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I buy wine for big parties so I've been where you're at...you don't want to serve people crap but spending a fortune isn't an option either.

My favorite low-budget party wines are:

The aforementioned Rancho Zabaco Red Zinfandel, this is just about my favorite everyday red. It goes with almost every kind of food. I can usually find it for $8.99 per bottle.

The Bonny Doon Ca D' Solo Big House Red is quite good. Even non-red-wine-loving guests drink this and like it. I like most of Bonny Doon's wines, though. I like their Vin Gris de Cigare and their Pacific Rim Riesling also.

Cline Cellars' Red Truck red wine is a new favorite in our crowd. The Bella Sera Pinot Grigio is also popular. I don't like it as much as I like some other grigios I've had, none of which come to mind at the moment.

I've been drinking a lot of Callahan Hill Chardonnay lately as an everyday wine. I like it; the flavors are nicely balanced and it's very drinkable. I have tried the Yellow Tail Chardonnay. I just didn't like it as much as the Callahan Hill, but many people love it. If you serve that, it will definitely be familiar to people, at least. Clos du Bois Chardonnay is fine, sometimes you can find good discounts on it also. Viognier is a great option for white wine and sometimes you can find good deals on that - Yalumba Y Series is a good one I've had.

Hope this helps...if you have a helpful wine store staff, you also might try asking them. Whenever I'm having a big party and I go in to buy wine, the guy at my store will point out some great bargains and helps me pick out what I get so I end up with a balanced mix of wines - something for everyone. I've discovered some great cheap wines that way.

Here's an article Food and Wine Magazine did about inexpensive wines: Cheap wine

And even if you are going budget on the wine for your guests, please splurge on yourself and your new husband and buy yourselves some really nice champagne to enjoy after the wedding, when the two of you are finally by yourselves. One of my most treasured memories is opening a bottle of champagne together at midnight in the woods outside our honeymoon cabin. It was freezing cold and everything seemed so crisp - the air, the stars, the champagne. It was fantastic. Best of luck to you. :smile:

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I say go with the 2 buck Chuck (8 cases $200) and use the balance on a few special bottles of wine for you, your spouse, and those extra special friends.

Charles a food and wine addict - "Just as magic can be black or white, so can addictions be good, bad or neither. As long as a habit enslaves it makes the grade, it need not be sinful as well." - Victor Mollo

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Thanks everyone for the comments. Friends threw us a wedding party on Saturday and we tasted a bunch of wines. We did a blind testing with the labels covered.

The sparkling wine winner was Freixenet Carta Nevada Brut NV. Personally, I preferred the Segura Viudas Brut Risera, but I was in the definite minority.

The over whelming winner among the red wines was the Yellow Tail Shiraz 2004 by a 7 to 1 margin. Some comments on a few of the other wines:

Vila Tinto Fundacion 2002: This wine got the best comments aside from the Shiraz. "smooth" "full-bodied" "fruity" but didn't receive many votes.

Cotes du Rhone 2002: people were pretty neutral to this. No terrible comments, but no votes for it, either.

Rex Goliath Cabernet Sauvignon NV: "no" and "yuck" were common comments

Morande Pionero Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 : "terrible" "mediocre" "oaky"

Borsao, 2003: "perfumy" "blech" "terrible"

3-buck Chuck, Cab Sav 2002: "watery" "not special" "too sweet"

That's not everything, but just a sampling.

The big winner, though, was the sangria. People really liked it. As a result, we'll probably get enough wine for dinner, but rely on the sangria for the rest of the night. Okay, that's wine, too, but it used even cheaper wine so that's ok.

None of us are wine experts, so the comments above are the comments from people who like to drink wine, but don't consider themselves knowledgeable about them.

Thanks again for all of the help.

Edited to add: I should say that despite some of the wines above being called "terrible" almost every wine got at least one vote by someone who thought it was the best of the bunch. The Cotes du Rhone was in the minority that received no votes at all.

Edited by MT-Tarragon (log)

M. Thomas

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  • 3 months later...

Probably too late for MT-Tarragon, but perhaps useful to future readers:

At our June wedding in Madison, Wisconsin, we served the 2004 Avelada Vinho Verde and the 2003 Penfolds Rawson's Retreat Shiraz/Cabernet. Entrees were beef tenderloin or salmon. Bought at a case discount, we got the Avelada for about $6/bottle and the Penfolds for lss than $9. Attendees, including a few wine aficionados, were very pleased with the selections.

Liam

Eat it, eat it

If it's gettin' cold, reheat it

Have a big dinner, have a light snack

If you don't like it, you can't send it back

Just eat it -- Weird Al Yankovic

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  • 1 year later...

Just wanted to revive this and see if people had any current thoughts - we're getting married in the US in a couple of months but are UK residents, so have no feeling for what might or might not be a bargain in the US.

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